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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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Return to Carentan

Carentan marina
click to enlarge

After 21 years we’re back in Carentan on the Normandy coast. I was first here with the MBM Cruise in Company fleet in the mid-1970s (can anyone remember those days?) and then with the family in 1997.

But seeing the mile long yet narrow marina now, I just wonder if it’s become a forgotten destination?

Fat, rolly, polly seals

The 8 mile approach from the fairway buoy through the estuary and along the river is just gorgeous. Hundreds of fat seals basking on the beach and flock after flock of birds flying up from the wetlands. Approaching the end of the river you see the lock which opens HW-2 to HW+3.

And here’s the ‘but’. After 21 years the marina doesn’t seem to have changed. Same old bouncy pontoons mostly covered in gull and duck pooh, same old 5A power supply in lichen blackened boxes, looking dowdy and unkept.

Yes, there’s a new-ish Capitainerie and shower block (water is somewhat tepid) and a Brasserie but it’s shut for the summer hols. A number of boats seem to have been left to die, covered in green and unloved.

So many unloved and dying boats
click to enlarge

Far from the madding crowd

What is so, so lovely, is the peace and tranquility. Just perfect for being and unwinding. Apart from Play d’eau, there are no visiting boats and no-one working on their boats. It’s as though it’s a ghost marina.

Walking into the small town with its large 12c church. Again, it’s so quiet. So few people around. Some modern buildings have been shouldered in amongst the old, architecturally more beautiful buildings, many of them shut down and up for sale. From what we’ve seen, there are hairdressers, opticians, pharmacies, clothing shops, but only one small supermarket, two boulangeries (the third is up for sale), one butcher and one ironmonger.

On the other hand, there’s a new indoor swimming pool complex and a separate small sports centre, but neither seem really used – good use of EU money?

Duck a l’orange?

As I’ve said, what we love about the marina is the peace. It’s so, so quiet. No visitors. Only dozens of really vociferous ducks. What if we fed them with oranges? Would they be marinaded ready for the pot?

So quiet and tranquil
click to enlarge

Having met our Carentan goal we’re undecided on ‘where next?’

Maybe we’ll head back around the Cherbourg peninsula to the north coast of Brittany which we love.

Piers and Lin
from the Saloon of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

5 comments to Return to Carentan

  • Glynis Reynolds

    Great to see you’re travelling. Just back back from an 8 day trip to Iceland and thoroughly enjoyed seeing whales and puffins, as well as the obligatory geysers and waterfalls!

  • Greetings Piers and Lin
    Hope that you are both well.
    We were there in the third week of June 2015 and there was some activity then. Also the town still had D Day decorations in evidence. But over two days the HM was rarely around! One of the issues for slower sailing boats like ours is that you have to plan your arrival for the lock opening. If coming from the north you cannot leave the delightful St Vaast-la-Hougue early enough to get to Carantan on the same tide. You have to have time anchored outside one or the other. That may put some people off! Last time we left the harbour at St Vaast the night before and anchored outside there.
    We are at Visby on Gotland, about 50nm off Sweden’s east coast, having been in the Baltic Sea the last three years.
    Best wishes Richard and Andrea

  • I think the peace and tranquility are the most important and treasured things at the moment. There are so few times in life when those gifts are available! I love the image of roly poly seals- and the ducks’ chorus?- well, bang goes peace and tranquillity. There must be a lot of memories,though

    Lots of love, Hil

  • We visited Carentan for the first time at the start of June 2018. A wonderful place.
    We hired a car and went to see the museums and cemeteries etc. Very moving and Carentan is an ideal base.

  • Pip Flynn

    Glad to know that you arrived safely but surprised that they didn’t put out the bunting to greet you after such a long absence?? I look forward to hearing where you will choose next on your autumnal meanderings. P&Pxx

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